2014 Heats Up Along the Coast

Kicking off the 2014, many of us have outlined a list of New Year’s Resolutions. One of mine is to be more attentive to the TLC blog and web site. While I previously used this space to discuss public relations news and trends, I’ve decided to begin sharing experiences and stories from my personal travels as well as exciting travel news on behalf of TLC clients.

With so many exciting events and special offers happening here in South Walton and Destin for February, there is no reason to leave! Check out these great offers:

Pensione Inn  –  The charming Pensione Inn, a boutique hotel in Rosemary Beach, is offering a very attractive winter rate, starting at $129/night. After recently undergoing a complete renovation, the European beachside inn boasts chic, sophisticated décor and cozy guest rooms made for two. Just steps away from the sugar white sand beaches, The Pensione overlooks Western Green and the walkable Rosemary Beach Town Center filled with boutique shopping and gourmet restaurants. Each stay provides guests access to Rosemary Beach’s heated pools and state-of-the-art fitness facility as well as unlimited complimentary DVDs. Visit the Rosemary Beach web site to learn more.
 Pensione_DSC4804 (2)
The Pensione Inn in Rosemary Beach
Beachside Inn – Newman-Dailey Resort Properties has introduced the Extreme Love Valentine’s Day package for the month of February. The special offer includes a bottle of champagne at check-in and 6-mile or 12-mile helicopter tour of the Destin Harbor and along the sugar white sand beaches courtesy of Timberview Helicopter Tours in conjunction with a three-night stay at one of Newman-Dailey’s premier South Walton or Destin Vacation rentals. The Extreme Love Valentine’s Day package is available with any 3-night stay at a Newman-Dailey and has been pre-packaged with a special rate for stays at the charming Beachside Inn in Crystal Beach. Package price for a 3-night stay with the 6-mile helicopter tour is $453 or packaged with the 12-mile “JAWS” Run Helicopter Tour is $505 (including taxes and fees). Visit the Newman-Dailey web site to learn more.
 beach with walkoverBeachside Inn Exterior
Beachside Inn in Crystal Beach
Wine, Women &  Shoes-Sandestin, Feb. 7-9 – This colorful weekend of wine and fashion is ideal for a quick girlfriend getaway. On Saturday, Feb. 8, an exclusive wine preview party will be held at Kwiker Liquor in Carillon Beach, will feature some of the country’s preeminent vineyards ($25/person & $5 may be applied to wine purchases). The signature event will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 2-5 pm in the Magnolia Ballroom at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Patrons will be treated to an extravaganza of fashion, wine and shoes, along with wine tastings, a silent auction, sole mates (shoe guys), delectable hors d’oeuvres and a fashion show from W by Worth and Dennis & Company ($65/person). Sandestin is offering special rates for WW&S participants, starting at $119/night for studio in the Village of Baytowne Wharf (code: 2352TF). The event benefits Sinfonia Gulf Coast Music Education. To learn more visit:  http://www.sinfoniagulfcoast.org/.
 Sinfonia-WW&S Signature Event 2013 Art
Wine, Women & Shoes Signature Event
BEach My Valentine, Feb. 15 – Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation has partnered with Bud & Alley’s Restaurant for a fun night under the stars in the Herb Garden & Gazebo.  Chef David Bishop has created a special menu of amazing culinary delights from a variety of seafood and chicken creations to signature dishes from Bud & Alley’s Pizza and Taco Bars.  A complimentary signature drink “The Cupid” and select wines are also included.  Live entertainment by “Something Fishy” will perform a wide variety of music from beach, shag, blues to your favorite classic love songs. Proceeds from the night benefit the cultural and education mission of Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. $50/person or $40 for MKAF members. Visit the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation web site to learn  more.
Mardi Gras celebrations, Gumbo Cookoffs and live music round out the month. So unless you’re heading to Mobile or New Orleans for Mardi Gras revelry, there is no place better to enjoy February than along the beaches of South Walton and Destin, Florida!

January 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

TLC Recognized with Golden Image Award for 30A Songwriters Festival Campaign

The 30A Songwriters Festival and its public relations firm Tracy Louthain Communications (TLC) were awarded the Florida Public Relations Association’s (FPRA) Golden Image Award of Distinction for the promotion and publicity of the 3rd annual event. The FPRA Golden Image Awards competition recognizes outstanding public relations programs in Florida.

The Golden Image Awards have become a standard of excellence in the state and winners demonstrate the very best examples of innovation, planning and design. The FPRA awards competition, which includes four divisions, was judged by the Central PennsylvaniaChapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).  The 30A Songwriters Festival was recognized under the category of “Public Relations Programs” for its sound public relations research and planning, and meeting the highest standard of production, execution and results within budget.

“We’re honored to be recognized among the best campaigns in Florida,” said Jennifer Steele, executive director of the CAA. “The third annual event met and exceeded our expectations. We’ve already begun planning the 2013 30A Songwriters Festival and are excited to build upon this momentum, adding new venues and artists.”

The 3rd Annual 30A Songwriters Festival benefitted from an integrated public relations campaign, which achieved 25% growth in ticket sales as well as coverage in American Way, Garden & Gun and American Songwriter magazines. Social media was an important component and updates, news and festival highlights were posted on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  The 30ASWF Facebook page achieved more than 5,000 “Likes”. The festival partnered with 30A.com and Town Wizard for the development of a mobile app that gave festival attendees access to schedules, bios and festival updates throughout the three-day event.


September 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment

Future of SEO

Integrated marketing is the name of the game. Public relations is most effective when it’s employed in conjunction with other marketing strategies. Today, it is critical for businesses to embrace online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media channels to increase awareness and keep  products/services front and center when potential clients have a need.

TLC is delighted to announce a partnerhsip with Julio Fernandez and Social Shelf Space to provide clients up-to-the-minute recommendations for optimizing their websites in an effort to improve organic search rankings. With Google making changes more frequently than I brush my teeth, it’s challenging for marketers to keep up. The latest changes to Google search place less emphasis on keywords and more emphasis on links from authority sites. Julio’s recent article in the Huffington Post does a great job of outlining these changes.

As we navigate a new world where people read news from social sites often before they see it on respected news sources, marketers and public relations professionals must remain vigilant to stay on top of the constantly changing online marketplace.

July 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

Public Relations Defined

The TLC Blog follows trends in communications, public relations, marketing and social media. Commentary addresses topical issues, starting a new business, clients and life at the beach.



Public relations has always been such an elusive discipline. Many businesses believe they need PR but often aren’t sure why. While others think of PR professionals simply as “spin doctors.” So it was to the delight of the public relations community when the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) brought the definition up for a vote to once and for all define the function of public relations. The great news is the result is what “Accredited Public Relations” professionals already knew. Public relations is defined as:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Thanks to Stuart Elliott with the NY Times for covering this story and sharing this definition with marketing, advertising and public relations practitioners across the nation. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/business/media/public-relations-a-topic-that-is-tricky-to-define.html?_r=2&ref=business

March 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm Leave a comment

What are your public relations resolutions?

In any profession, you should set goals and seek ways for improvement while stopping and celebrating successes along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to find a critique of a recent press release written for Newman-Dailey Resort Properties. As PR practioners we’re always seeking exposure and testimonials for our clients, but rarely for ourselves. The honest critique by “Officing Today” entitled “Marketing Your Business to Mobile Office Workers,” dissected the press release into a descriptive “how to” for reaching a specific audience. I am honored to have my work used as a tool to educate others. I will definitely be incorporating their evaluation into my March class at Northwest Florida State College on “Communicating Effectively with Your Target Audiences.”

Now to complete my list of goals and resolutions for the year, beginning with continuing education, more philanthropic endeavors and to exceed client expectations.  Any good ones to share?

January 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment

Talking Technology

The recent USA Today panel discussion moderated by Veronica Stoddart brought together five CEOs of online travel companies, affording us great insight into where technology is going and the implications for travel marketers. The best news for marketers is that with advancements in technology, reviewing consumers’ buying behavior is much easier, allowing more opportunities for laser targeted marketing and serving up relevant content. We’re hearing that deals and value continue to to lead decision/booking process. However, it seems that that the jury is still out on the new travel category for Groupon. We’ll all be watching this partnership closely as it already has millions of consumers registered and seems to have strong long term potential. As you may have guessed, social media is still very important in discovery, booking and trip sharing. Technology will continue to focus on how to make these activities easier through social media platforms. For Cyber Monday, one of the hot products is a Kodak camera that allows you pre-tag photos so they are already tagged when uploaded to Facebook. In addition to social, the panel all agreed that mobile is one of the fastest growing segments. More and more consumers are researching, booking and sharing their experiences via mobile devices. One thing is certain, advancements in technology are allowing us to connect with consumers quicker with more relevancy and marketers who thoughtfully embrace technology in order to better serve the consumer will have the advantage.

November 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

Alphabet Soup

So I keep getting asked …”What do those letters behind your name mean anyway?” The Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential is a way to demonstrate knowledge, ethics and credibility for public relations practitioners. Established in 1964, the Accreditation Program is the profession’s only national post-graduate certification program. The skills acquired through the process are applicable to any industry or practice area. Currently, more than 5,000 professionals nationwide hold the APR mark.

CPRC stands for certified public relations counselor. This is an advanced certification that is offered only in the State of Florida that further tests a professional’s knowledge and understanding of ethical practices. There are only 70 professionals in the state that hold this advanced certification. It underscores that PR professionals are not spin doctors but rather communications professionals serving the public interest with honesty and integrity. I encourage all in the field to take the time to gain this designation.

November 18, 2011 at 4:07 am Leave a comment

Playing Dirty

I was surprised by today’s article on USA Today that the Grand Resort Hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. has filed a lawsuit against TripAdvisor for revealing that it ranked “America’s dirtiest hotel” by reviewers. The claims that those posting may have been disgruntled staff or others who had an ax to grind seem to be a stretch. Is this public image dilemma the result of a mean spirited hoax or poor  cleanliness? I tend to believe it’s a case of the latter. It seems that the GM should be taking internal action (not legal action). This an opportunity to step up your game–institute a deep cleaning property wide, adopt new inspection standards, etc. and, most importantly, communicate to guests and the traveling public what you’ve done to show your property cares about guest satisfaction and meets rigorous cleanliness standards. Instead, this legal attempt to clear the hotel’s name only makes the public more skeptical.

I firmly believe that companies that employ effective communications strategies and address issues head on are far more likely to regain the public’s trust and salvage the company reputation. I have learned in working with Newman-Dailey Resort Properties that with a dedicated team, providing exceptional customer service, delivering a consistent, clean, quality product and offering value to the  guest, it is possible to consistently receive “excellent” TripAdvisor ratings. Visitors want to tell their stories, sharing the good and bad about every aspect of their experience. This helps good companies become great. This allows caring companies to respond and address concerns quickly. The public does not expect a company to be perfect, but it does (and should) expect a fair, truthful forthright response and communication.

October 26, 2011 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Enjoying the ride…

View from the balcony of a lovely Newman-Dailey Resort Properties condo in Mediterranea in Miramar Beach

I am enamored with words. I appreciate a great sound bite; I enjoy simple, concise messages (3’s bullets are a good rule of thumb); and l always savor a well written feature story. So you can imagine my delight when one of my first assignments was to develop a core messaging platform for Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, synergizing all lines of business in a way that resonates with target audiences/stakeholders.  As part of this project, I began with the “Discovery Phase.” By researching, studying, interviewing, and listening, I’ve discovered this company has a loyal team committed to excellence, a fun corporate culture that celebrates success, a quality and diverse product offering, strong values, incredible leadership and happy clients/customers. As part of the  process, I also had the pleasure of touring more than a dozen beautiful properties,  from cozy condos to spacious well-appointed beachside  homes. Now, I’m excited to get back to my desk to continue building a concise, consistent messaging strategy that authentically differentiates this business from its competitors (who all offer the same claims). While I’m having fun tackling this assignment, I’m also working hard to heed my own advice and enjoy the ride. Take a minute to dip my toes in the sand and smell the salt air and remember how fortunate I am to live in paradise.

September 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

One month behind the wheel: Are we there yet?

One thing is certain, time is my best friend and worst enemy. In my first month, I have accomplished so much and so little at the same time. I have conducted a media/networking mission to Atlanta where I connected with some fantastic friends, colleagues, editors and freelance writers. I signed two accounts and am in the midst of a fun media relations project. I penned my first articles for Emerald Coast Magazine and Alys Beach Gazette. On one hand I feel like I’m off to a great start and time is flying. On the flip side, everything seems to move so slowly. I’m finding that writing,  feedback on proposals/press releases, securing articles, among others seem to take much longer than I anticipated. It’s the classic hurry up and wait. So my challenge to myself this month is to enjoy the ride. Enjoy the process, enjoy the new challenges, enjoy the growth, the learning… don’t let my ideas about how long it should take create anxiety and get in the way of the pleasure and excitement of owning my company, doing great work for great people and spending more time with my family. With hard work and dedication, the end result is the same: success, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. So I simply need to remember to relax, smell the flowers, check out the view and enjoy the journey.

September 22, 2011 at 3:34 am Leave a comment

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